The diet battlefield

What are the different diets?

There is endless debate about diet. We divide ourselves into our separate groups, rarely seeing eye to eye. The debate is multi layered and warrants open debate. If we shared information, pooled the best of our knowledge and acted as a common group we would all be much better off.  That is the approach of the Ethical omnivore. Let’s talk about health issues, sourcing good produce, the dark side of the industry, how to soak beans to avoid flatulence, where protein really comes from and that we can live without dairy if we so choose.

Common diets overview:

Vegan – a diet and lifestyle that excludes consumption and using of all animal products (meat, diary, fish, eggs, honey, wool, leather etc). Focused on animal welfare issues.

Plant based – similar to Veganism but focused on health and inclusion of whole plant based foods.

Ethical omnivore – A plant based diet, focused on nutrition with the additional of quality animal products as you choose. (i.e. excludes all factory farmed produce).

Flexitarian – Also know as a flexible vegetarian. Adding occasional animal products.

Vegetarian – a diet that excludes meat and fish but does include diary and eggs.

Pescatarian – a diet that excludes meat but does include fish, dairy and eggs.

Reducetarian – a diet that aims to reduce the consumption of animal products.

Omnivore – a diet where anything goes, meat, fish, veg, dairy, eggs.

Carnivore – reserved for wolves, none of us are carnivores, we are herbivores and omnivores but never carnivores however much you think you like steak!

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Buy British

If it can be grown or produced in the UK we should avoid buying imported versions. For example banana’s aren’t grown here, but apples are so look for UK origin apples. All animal products that we typically eat are farmed in the UK, however we import vast quantities.

Free markets and free trade have positive benefits, but where food production is concerns the negatives outweigh the benefits.

Food security – this is our ability to be self sufficient. Do you really want your pork to come from China, or your dairy to come from a 46,000 cow indoor farm in Saudi Arabia? The production costs might be cheaper, but that benefits the businesses in the food chain, not the consumer. The more imported food we buy the more risk we are stuck with it with little or no control over production standards, quality or price. Creating a threat to our national food security.

Level playing field – We are lucky in the UK as a lot of our agricultural policies, mean safer and better produce, but it often means we ask more of our farmers in the UK, through welfare acts, non GMO crops, reduced use of chemicals etc. they face tough challenges competing with producers from other countries. We can’t have it both ways and need to support our UK farmers.

Misleading labelling – watch out for products that appear to be British. It is used as a marketing technique. For example a ready meal sold as ‘British hotpot’, that is made using no ingredients from the UK. Or Strawberries advertised an ‘perfect British summer’ that are from Spain.

Lamb and mutton – Sheep are part of our farming heritage. Sheep suit our climate and landscape. UK lamb and mutton is available all year round, so buying it from the other side of the world, New Zealand is unnecessary. The same with beef from other continents, such as USA and South America.

Country of origin – Read the labels, the country of origin is listed. Be aware that ‘packed in’ doesn’t mean where a product originated. Some labels are misleading as it might be sold as British if it was finished or packed in UK. Apply common sense.

Source directly – supermarkets and will source produce from the cheapest, most available source. That doesn’t mean they pass the saving onto you, it means they can’t often can’t tell you which country they sourced the product from. For example it will have a list of countries or simply say ‘the EU’. Try to find direct sources of produce and independent retailers that are committed to local produce.

Support UK farming –  We need to support our farming industry to ensure it’s future.

Grass fed dairy – The UK still has a high level of outdoor grazing dairy, around 80%. Compare this with a lot of other European countries where intensive dairy, with zero grazing is in the majority. For example in Italy where approx 90% of all dairy is intensive. We have an amazing cheese industry but buy a lot of imported cheese. Over all we import dairy products worth £1.3bn more than we exported.

Miles travelled – obvious one, less carbon footprint.

Pork – our welfare standards for pork production are better than a lot of other countries. The use of farrowing crates, sow stalls, male castration, tail docking, straw bedding systems etc. This puts a strain on our UK pork farmers to compete on price, but the product is better and worth the difference.

Provenance – Know where it has came from. The UK has a reputation for higher standards, including review and audit of these standards.

Chemicals and preservation processes – To be able to move your food around the world it undergoes chemical and preservation processes to retain freshness, control ripening etc..

Seasonal – It is always said it far better to eat in season, buying British means you are leaning to a seasonal diet. Enjoy ‘out of season’ produce as a treat but think about what you are buying when.

Buy locally – Go one step further and buy as much local produce as you can.

Parting thoughts – Buying British (or your local country) represents the overall concept of Ethical omnivore. Whole food, grown and supplied to benefits us all, keeping control of our food supply and quality. It makes sense for so many reasons. Sadly it doesn’t mean that all UK produce is ethical, as we also have intensive farming in the UK. So buy British and buy ethical British.

The Ethical omnivore.

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What is a ‘plant powered diet’?

A whole food plant based diet, or plant powered diet (PP) is exactly that. It is preparing dishes from whole foods that grow naturally from the earth – soil, sun, rain. The food chain starts with plants, that is where all food energy and nutrition originates. By moving to a plant based diet you are simply getting closer to the original source of food energy.

  1. Producers – plants, create all food energy
  2. Consumers primary – herbivores, eat plants
  3. Consumers secondary – omnivores, eat both plants and herbivores
  4. Consumers tertiary – carnivores, eat herbivores and omnivores
  5. Consumers quaternary – carnivores, eat other carnivores and have no natural predators

Learning to enjoy a whole food plant based diet (PP) and recognising all of the benefits is like throwing a good bowling ball and knocking down the majority of pins, maybe all of them! A plant based diet is the healthiest, most sustainable, affordable diet we can eat.

There are lots of organisations and diets available in this arena. I favour a whole food plant based diet rather than meat replacement products as I avoid eating highly processed foods. I found the easiest one to follow is Michael Greger’s daily dozen checklist, see this video clip:

https://nutritionfacts.org/video/dr-gregers-daily-dozen-checklist

I have made a chart and check list to help keep track Daily dozen. As with everything, moderation and variety is the key. Saying broccoli is good for you doesn’t mean eat only broccoli it is all about eating a variety of foods.

And the question most of us ask: ‘Can I get everything I need from a plant based diet?’ The answer is: Yes you can get everything you need from a plant based diet. In fact it is the best way to get everything you need!

And the next question: ‘what about the taste, is plant food bland?’ You are in for a great surprise. You might have picked up from reading this blog that I love food and I plan my day around it. I can personally reassure you that all the food I eat is delicious. There is a wealth of food, flavours and dishes to discover and once you do you’ll never go back. There are an estimated 20,000 species of edible plants so plenty to try!

When we look at food choices and concerns, we tend to focus on one thing at a time; meat or non meat, processed or non processed foods, good or bad fats, too much sugar, too much salt, eat ‘5-A-Day’. A whole-food plant based diet isn’t another one to add to the list, it is the one, it means you get rid of the list.

The focus is not on cutting things out or being restrictive. You focus on what you should eat, increasing your intake of foods that give you all the nutrition you need and will thrive on. Focusing on a plant based diet and then choosing to add fats, meat, sugar, fish, processed foods, dairy, salt etc. gives you the freedom to enjoy a healthy, flexible diet, include only the best versions of animal products and enjoy extras like chocolate, crisps etc as a treat. You’ll find the more you change you diet the less you will crave or want to eat unhealthy foods, but it is good to know you have choice so you don’t freak out or lack the motivation to try.

In summary: Plants means:

  • Vegetables
  • Fruit
  • Berries
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Grains
  • Herbs, spices
  • Legumes (bean, pulses, peas)

Whole foods means:

  • Prepared food or eating a whole product or close to it, e.g. A whole apple rather than apple juice
  • Minimal processing only, for purpose of preserving, e.g. dried beans, fruits, herbs etc.
  • Intact nutrition e.g. wholewheat bread or pasta, brown rice etc.
  • Maximum nutrition, preparing food to maximise nutritional value, e.g. cooking techniques, eating raw foods.
  • Preparing food without added sugar, fats or salt.

* You will recognise some of those terms from the post about Ultra processed foods.

Parting thoughts, how far you go with the diet is your choice. Some people will make it 100%, which is recommended for maximum health benefits, but any shift you make will give you benefits. The key message here is that once you have learnt how to enjoy a PB diet and feel confident you better understand nutrition and unpick certain food myths for example read https://wp.me/p7RDjy-77 and https://wp.me/p7RDjy-6h the easier it is to make ethical food choices.

Don’t take me word for it, Google ‘plant based athlete’ for some inspiration, from Lewis Hamilton, Venus Williams, David Haye, Scott Jurek, Rich Roll to name but just a few.

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Don’t freak out

Don’t freak out. Make small changes, one at a time. Focus on something simple and keep working at it until it becomes second nature.

When we start to question things and make changes it is often overwhelming. I say this from personal experience. It is always hard to start doing something new, especially when it involved making an effort.

It is easier to give up before you really get started. It is easier not to bother than to try and fail. We have all done it, especially when we are trying to give something up or make a significant change. Trying to get fit, deciding to read all your emails before you leave work, keeping your car clear, giving up drinking, saving money – (now you’ve got an insight into my world).

Physiologists could explain the reasons for all this. My simple view is that our attempts to change often fail because we try to do too much at once. We overload and pressure ourselves and we check out before we have really checked in.

Me and Mr Ethivore didn’t conscientiously decide to cut anything out and it didn’t happen over night. It happened step by step and we learnt as we went along. Small changes add up and they are easier to stick with. Whether you make one change or a series of changes it is all counts. If 100 people change 1% it is the same of 1 person changing 100% so if lots of us make even the smallest of changes the overall impact is very powerful.

For the record we have successfully changed our diets from 90/10 to 10/90 (I’ll explain more in another post), but the rest of it not so good, I’ll clean my car if I ever have to give you a lift!

Trying, one step at a time.

The Ethical omnivore.

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Why Go Ethivore?

Everything you need to know for a healthy, varied and ethical diet. Pause Netflix it is time for a reality check. The food industry is in crisis, it really is screwed…

  • Public health scares
  • Widespread systemic animal cruelty
  • GMOs entering the food chain
  • destruction of the rain forests
  • misuse of antibiotics leading to superbugs
  • massive areas of soil erosion
  • omega 3 and 6 imbalances
  • devastating pollution of our seas
  • decimation of bees and wild birds
  • bacteria laden meat in our kitchens
  • family farms going bust, factory farms on the increase
  • Bill Gates investing in weird science
  • extinction of wild animals
  • food has never been cheaper yet millions of people are starving …do you need to hear any more

Agri business is HUGE, it a multi billion pound industry, it is up there with defence, oil, pharmaceuticals and controlled at the highest levels of government. Guess what? – you are the most powerful person in agri business, the consumer. Agri business needs to control what you buy and all aspects of food production and distribution, this is how they make their huge profits, something they are doing very successfully

Why? Because we don’t want to know what goes on behind closed doors, in windowless sheds housing 1000’s of chickens or pigs, dairies with no pasture, rows upon rows of caged chickens laying eggs, chemical pools thick with salmon, we look the other way, we don’t ask questions, we tuck into our dinner, we marvel at how cheap chicken is and we quickly forget one health scandal to the next. We are the walking dead, marketing led zombies.

Food should be a delight, it should be nourishing, full of flavour, it should build communities, support our landscape, work with nature, but the majority of food we choose everyday, that we buy in supermarkets and eat in restaurants is really none of these things.

So what can you do about it, and where do you start? Simple, join us and gain the knowledge you need to make the right choices to enjoy an ethical, healthy and varied diet.

If you AGREE with any of these statement then Go Ethivore and become an ethical omnivore.

  1. ‘You are what you eat’, good diet choices directly benefit our health and our lives.
  2. Humans, animals and the environment should not suffer so that the food industry can make bigger profits.
  3. Food should be produced in a way that doesn’t puts both our short and longer term health at risk.
  4. We should support good farming practices to ensure continued access to great tasting food that is good value and high quality.

Everyone is welcome, whether you change 1% or 100% – every change counts.

Start today – Ethical Omnivore 101 (the basics):

  1. Support independent ethical farming – You can find better produce at a better price by cutting out the middle men. A direct farmer to consumer marketplace would really enhance our food choices.
  2. Avoid all factory farmed animal productschoose free range, organic, grass fed, traditionally produced.
  3. Make time to cookLoosing the ability to cook a wide variety of food, slow cooking meat, really enjoying veg, understanding pulses really reduces our food choices and control over our diets.
  4. Waste not want notuse up left overs, don’t over buy, cook and serve food. Think about how much food you throw away and work to reduce waste.
  5. Embrace a plant based dietthe easiest way to a healthy diet and freedom to choose is to understand how to enjoy a plant based diet. I’ll help you!
  6. Cut down on your intake of animal products – replace with veg, grain, legumes etc
  7. Raise your expectationsfor all produce, animal or plant to be good quality. If it isn’t change your supplier, rethink what you buy.
  8. Ask questions and read labelsquestion what is considered ‘normal’ and don’t make assumptions. Fancy restaurants or smart packaging doesn’t mean ethical produce.
  9. Open your mind Being an omnivore doesn’t mean we can’t access and use technics, ingredients, information normally reserved for veggie diets.
  10. Take responsibility for your own diet and health – Don’t rely on the industry for a healthy diet, their view point is biased and focused on profit. Read and learn, all the information you need is out there.

We have lots of great information so keep reading, your feedback is essential so keep sharing!

P.S. If you want to learn more about us please read the ‘About’ page on our website. http://www.ethicalomnivore.co.uk/dir/about We are a not-for-profit organisation focused on sharing useful information about the food industry, good food and healthy eating to benefit us all.

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